CAMDEN, NJ—On a rainy Wednesday evening tucked back into a parking lot along Woodland Avenue, 19-year-old Ethan Llewellyn was inside a metal shipping container explaining how solar panels mounted on the container’s roof will power can up to three computers and air conditioning system.
“It’s very creative, because its making nothing into something,” said Llewllyn.
Llewllyn, along with other members of the Boys & Girls Club of Camden, are in the process of transforming the shipping container into a mobile command center that will be used on the Camden Tower jobsite this fall.
“This is my first time being hands on, but I took a class last year and it was teaching me about all this stuff,” Llewllyn said. “You really don’t get opportunities like this to expand your knowledge and learn, so I’m going to take advantage of it and use it to the best of my ability.”
The project is a hands-on application of the skills they are learning in the Jingoli Live Classroom program, a 12-week program that identifies and trains high school juniors and seniors in construction, engineering and related fields. Participants learn about basic construction, electrical work, safety protocol, plasma cutting, HVAC systems, drills, carpentry and employment opportunities in the construction field, among other topics.
The Live Classroom program is run through the national contractor Joseph Jingoli and Son’s Competitive Edge program. It's the second year they’ve partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of Camden County.
“This is a great opportunity for these juniors and seniors to learn a trade, to see what they’re into,” Newlin Marshall, of the Boys and Girls Club said. “Right now what I want to do is get a great supply of individuals who have a great passion for working in construction, to be a part of it.”
While Llewellyn and company were learning from professionals in the electrical and construction fields, they were also taking some lessons from those who came before them.
Saleem Bush, 19; Frederick Jean-Jacques, 20; and Joseph Marshall, 19, all from Newark, came up with the idea of transforming shipping containers as part of their Jingoli Live Classroom capstone project last year.
Called “Help in a Hurry,” they transformed a shipping container into an emergency shelter.
“We focused on disaster relief because of the flooding that happened in Florida, and what was going on in Puerto Rico. That was our initial directive, to create a solution to the problem that they were dealing with,” Jean-Jacques said.
Now college students and interns at Jingoli, they teach other participants in the Live Classroom program what they were able to learn from their project.
Once the shipping container is complete, it will include solar panels, AC/heating, electrical, water, telecommunications equipment and workstations. Ibrahim Branham, owner of IJB Electrical and a Jingoli Live Classroom partner, said the goal is to have the container complete by September 1. IJB Electric will then purchase the container to use as a job command site along the Camden waterfront.
For Llewellyn, taking what he learns through transforming the shipping container could become a career.
“I see myself doing this. I don’t know which way I’m going to go in construction, but I’m going to just start off, because there’s all different types of routes you can take,” Llewellyn said, expressing gratitude for the Boys and Girls Club. “If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t know about this opportunity."